Case studies

Pet tracking goes global with ultra-low power MQTT communication

Pawtrack used u-blox’s comprehensive end-to-end solution based on the industry standard MQTT to scale up its customer base, now serving cat owners in 170 countries and counting.

Cat-with-iot-pet-tracker

Losing a beloved pet is heartbreaking. It’s also preventable, thanks to the power of IoT asset tracking. For more than ten years, Pawtrack has made caring for cats a core value – and it shows in the design quality of its cat tracking collars. Along its journey, Pawtrack realized that the design challenges of cat trackers go beyond the collar itself and extend to the wireless network and the cloud. 

This asset tracking case study demonstrates how u-blox enables Pawtrack to solve the complexity of asset tracking – applied to cats – on a global scale with simplified cost of ownership. 
 

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Find your cat anytime, anywhere

Cat owners worldwide have shown a growing interest to know where their cats roam and find them when they go missing. Sales for cat trackers have increased exponentially as pet tracker providers adapt their business models to help improve the service for their end customers. A key driver behind this growth has been the attractive cost of ownership of reliable solutions brought about by constant advances in GPS technology and IoT communications.

For cat trackers to be easy and reliable to use as well as profitable to produce, they need to be small, accurate in reporting their location, and able to transmit their data anywhere in the world – much like any other industrial IoT asset tracker. That’s why Pawtrack applied industrial IoT device design in their setup of hardware, software, and communications components.
 

Challenge: Asset tracking at a global scale with predictable costs

Once the technical challenges involved in designing the actual device were overcome, connecting to the cloud anywhere in the world became the next big hurdle.

At first glance, it might seem straightforward: You need an asset tracker that gathers data, transmits it via a network all the way up to a cloud platform. If only it were that simple. Closer inspection reveals several hidden challenges: 

  • Which radio technology is most appropriate for this specific use case? 
  • What network or networks should it rely on to serve the largest potential market? 
  • Is the solution scalable, and if so, how? 

Not to mention the standard operating characteristics required for asset tracking solutions: long battery life, low message size, and message frequency ranging from days to minutes, depending on condition.
 

The solution: Comprehensive device-to-enterprise communication with worldwide reach and known pricing based on the number of MQTT messages sent. 

Pawtrack used MQTT Anywhere, u-blox’s comprehensive end-to-end solution based on the industry standard MQTT, to scale up its customer base, now serving customers in 170 countries and counting.

 

Choosing the right protocol is key

Think of the communication protocol as a wrapper around the data that you want to send. Choosing the correct protocol – one that is as light as possible but still able to reliably get the data to its desintation – is key. MQTT is a lightweight publish-and-subscribe messaging protocol. That means that instead of communicating with a server, client devices and applications publish and subscribe to topics handled by a MQTT broker. MQTT is designed for use in large low-power networks; MQTT-SN, which is used by MQTT Anywhere, is further optimized for power and bandwidth constrained devices, as in asset tracking.

The final step, getting data from IoT devices anywhere in the world to the enterprise, is made simple using MQTT Anywhere’s globally available communication network, at predictable cost, with on-demand scalability.
 

Solution benefits:

 

“u-blox MQTT Anywhere has been a game changer for us because we’ve been able to grow to new regions more quickly than we ever could before. Gone are the hidden complexities and setup costs of regional deployments. We now operate in over 170 countries thanks to global roaming on 2G and LTE-M networks, all with predictable cost.”

- Jeremy Price, Founder at Pawtrack 

The Pawtrack app provides full control of your cat collar from the palm of your hand; see your cat’s position in real time; see historical positions; and share your cat’s activities with other family members.

Outcomes: Putting an end to lost cats in over 170 countries and counting, including in Kathmandu, Nepal.

  • An attractive package for users that gives them the freedom to reliably track a pet anywhere in the world for a fixed cost
  • A greatly simplified marketing message that gives Pawtrack a business advantage over their competitors
  • Technical backup from a single communication provider
  • Automatic roaming between cellular providers
  • The reliability of an industrial grade communication layer
  • Safer cats and peace of mind

“We are literally tracking cats from here to Kathmandu. Our customers can just ‘open and go’ anywhere and get their cat’s location right out of the box. The Thingstream platform makes it easy to get real time monitoring and diagnostic information.”

- Jeremy Price, Founder at Pawtrack